Tuesday, September 11, 2007


We've had a lot of discussions about the terrible, awful state of the world in our house. We don't have a t.v., don't subscribe to a newspaper. What we do instead is strain current events from their media-driven source, through our parental filter, and into the minds of our children. Because of our curriculum content our children have an amazing grasp on the history of the world. That makes understanding the horrific events of the age not easier to bear (I'm not sure if anything can accomplish that) but somehow gives them more perspective. I've gotten used to that kind of depth of maturity in our conversations; even Logan nods sadly when he hears someone mention "Temple Mount" or "fighting in Africa." He has something to anchor current events to, and in some small way the fallen state of humanity is explained.

This morning, however, I had one of those moments that saddens me beyond the scope of our normal "the world is truly not our home" conversations. While popping a Jiminy Cricket sticker onto her birthday countdown, I saw Jo pause.

"Today's September 11th, right?"

I got a chill. Of course I did. You can't hear that date and not feel something evil stirring around you.


Long pause as she methodically traced the outline of the little smiling cricket and his umbrella.

"Dad has to go to work today, right? It's not a holiday or anything?"

I started to explain the concept of Patriot's Day, but then I realized that in actuality, what she was saying was that she was afraid. See, the children were are raising live in a world where Sept. 11 has taken on mythic, horrific proportions. You can not insulate them from the images even if they were not among those old enough to remember sitting beside their hysterical mommy in front of the television as she screamed into the phone, "I don't care where the editors are sending you! You will not go near an !@# airport today, do you hear me?" (That would be Jo's memory of the event. Go ahead and deduct fifty points from my overall parenting score.) Even if Jo had never seen the first-hand trauma of that morning, she would forever be able to call to mind the collapsing towers. Even without access to popular media outlets, my 9 year-old has seen more representations, photos and drawings of the scene than I could ever count. The image has bored its way into pop culture ... and along with the actual towers come the devastating fear and insecurities that ride their wake.

Here is the victory in the terrorist effort of that day: six years later, my daughter wonders if maybe today--of all days--daddy might be safer at home.

Dh had to go to work today, of course. He--and millions of other American mommies and daddies--probably kissed his children an extra time or two before he went out the door today. And I bet millions of American children will make a little more noise when they hear the key in the lock as evening comes on. I know I will be among the millions of wives who heave a sigh of relief when I feel his arms around me again. And, in case you think that the bad guys alone can claim victory in the aftermath of 9-11, know this: all the reports that I have seen lately cite a larger-than-usual class of 5 year-olds entering their kindergarten year. Next year's class is expected to be even larger. The birthdates of many of those kids trace back their conception to a very fragile period in American history ... the weeks and months immediately following 9-11-01.

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